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Birds and exposure issues HELP please
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Jan 5, 2019 11:51:54   #
CindyHouk (a regular here)
 
I went out to practice on birds. There is a pond by my house that normally has swans, ducks, geese, blue herons and eagles...so I thought this would be a good spot. BUT it was really overcast and I was not able to get the exposure correct and I am hoping you all can tell me what I was doing wrong. Plus there were not many birds around either...so that didn't help!

Nikon D500, Tamron 150-600, on tripod. Manual Mode, BBF set, Shutter button set to AE-L at half press, AF-C, played with Single Focus point, group and Auto, and also switched between Spot Meter and Center Weight Meter.

I was told that you should have your shutter speed a little over double your focal length...so at 600mm I would want my shutter at or over 1200, but doing that...I was not able to figure out how to get the ap/iso set so that the exposure was correct...it was driving me nuts! I played with the metering as well and just could never find the correct combination. Everything was turning out way to dark

The first pic shows how dark all the pics turned out...I even played with the exposure compensation but still nothing turned out. Just converted the raw to jpg in lightroom....no other edits made
The second pic is at a way lower shutter speed but as you can see, the duck is blurry and still too dark
The lasts 2 pics show my location, I changed my lens to the Tamron 16-150 for these

What would you have done in this situation? What settings should I have tried and what would your settings have been? I will go back and practice with everyone's suggestions.

Thanks
Cindy
1/1250, f6.3, 550mm, iso 1000
1/1250, f6.3, 550mm, iso 1000...
(Download)
1/160, f6.3, 600mm, iso 124
1/160, f6.3, 600mm, iso 124...
(Download)
1/40, f11, 16mm, iso 100 (looking left)
1/40, f11, 16mm, iso 100 (looking left)...
(Download)
1/40, f11, 16mm, iso 125 (looking right)
1/40, f11, 16mm, iso 125 (looking right)...
(Download)

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Jan 5, 2019 12:01:33   #
imagemeister (a regular here)
 
To lighten, you must bring SS down - by itself- or bring ISO up - by itself .....OR, bring ISO up and SS down.
Metering is seeing the bright sky and/or water ....
..

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Jan 5, 2019 12:07:42   #
genocolo
 
Actually the final three were very well done and could have been helped in LR.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:13:15   #
GENorkus (a regular here)
 
CindyHouk wrote:
I went out to practice on birds. There is a pond by my house that normally has swans, ducks, geese, blue herons and eagles...so I thought this would be a good spot. BUT it was really overcast and I was not able to get the exposure correct and I am hoping you all can tell me what I was doing wrong. Plus there were not many birds around either...so that didn't help!

Nikon D500, Tamron 150-600, on tripod. Manual Mode, BBF set, Shutter button set to AE-L at half press, AF-C, played with Single Focus point, group and Auto, and also switched between Spot Meter and Center Weight Meter.

I was told that you should have your shutter speed a little over double your focal length...so at 600mm I would want my shutter at or over 1200, but doing that...I was not able to figure out how to get the ap/iso set so that the exposure was correct...it was driving me nuts! I played with the metering as well and just could never find the correct combination. Everything was turning out way to dark

The first pic shows how dark all the pics turned out...I even played with the exposure compensation but still nothing turned out. Just converted the raw to jpg in lightroom....no other edits made
The second pic is at a way lower shutter speed but as you can see, the duck is blurry and still too dark
The lasts 2 pics show my location, I changed my lens to the Tamron 16-150 for these

What would you have done in this situation? What settings should I have tried and what would your settings have been? I will go back and practice with everyone's suggestions.

Thanks
Cindy
I went out to practice on birds. There is a pond b... (show quote)


Something "quick and dirty" as some put it, is for you to meter off the ground or something with a similar brightness as the birds you want to photograph.

With exception to the focusing, use that setting.
Practice some, make adjustments and you'll find it's pretty close to what you need.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:15:40   #
pesfls
 
There’s a whole host of ways to go about working on your exposures. I would start by going back to the nearby pond and experiment/practice. I would suggest you do a series of exposures, noting your settings and checking the histogram for each on your screen. When you get a good graph you should have a correspondingly good exposure. Make note of those settings. It’s more old school, but endeavor to learn to use your spot meter setting. Mastering that will bring more skills. Try and decide what area in your scene is a relative mid tone of all you see and use your meter’s reading. Take note of the histogram again. Then branch out with spot metering. Meter a dark area and then in manual mode stop down a couple clicks and again look at what you got. Conversely, spot meter bright areas and manually open up the f stop. I’m sure others will have ideas/advice for you. Lastly what may be a simple fix is to put your body to manual but set your ISO to “auto” and fire away. Do that in matrix mode first. Again it’s old school but the book Photographic Exposure and the Simplified Zone System by B Farzad would be a good read. It was written for the film era but the principles are the same today. Meters have always been calibrated to mimic 18 gray. How they read is unchanged except for modern things like matrix, spot etc. You’ll get there. Just be methodical in your efforts. Notes help. Good luck and have fun.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:16:53   #
Tomfl101
 
Cindy,

The white water reflections are causing the camera to interpret the scene as being lighter than it truly is. Shooting in manual mode, take a few test shots while reviewing your playback and histogram. In this particular scene your histogram was not properly pegged to the right as it should be. Your camera is trying to render detail in the white water. This is causing the rest of the scene to be dark. Histograms can be tricky to interpret so you can also simply look at the playback monitor. To make this scene look natural you should have opened the aperture 1 -2 stops or increase ISO from 125 to 250 or 500. Same with your wide shots, but I actually like the dark look on these. Light meters are rather dumb, they assume the whole world is mid-tone gray. I you point the camera to a scene lighter than mid-gray your pictures will be dark. Point to scenes darker than mid-gray, they will be too light. It's up to the photographer to make the final adjustment as he/she seems fit.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:17:00   #
wingclui44
 
CindyHouk wrote:
I went out to practice on birds. There is a pond by my house that normally has swans, ducks, geese, blue herons and eagles...so I thought this would be a good spot. BUT it was really overcast and I was not able to get the exposure correct and I am hoping you all can tell me what I was doing wrong. Plus there were not many birds around either...so that didn't help!

Nikon D500, Tamron 150-600, on tripod. Manual Mode, BBF set, Shutter button set to AE-L at half press, AF-C, played with Single Focus point, group and Auto, and also switched between Spot Meter and Center Weight Meter.

I was told that you should have your shutter speed a little over double your focal length...so at 600mm I would want my shutter at or over 1200, but doing that...I was not able to figure out how to get the ap/iso set so that the exposure was correct...it was driving me nuts! I played with the metering as well and just could never find the correct combination. Everything was turning out way to dark

The first pic shows how dark all the pics turned out...I even played with the exposure compensation but still nothing turned out. Just converted the raw to jpg in lightroom....no other edits made
The second pic is at a way lower shutter speed but as you can see, the duck is blurry and still too dark
The lasts 2 pics show my location, I changed my lens to the Tamron 16-150 for these

What would you have done in this situation? What settings should I have tried and what would your settings have been? I will go back and practice with everyone's suggestions.

Thanks
Cindy
I went out to practice on birds. There is a pond b... (show quote)


You are shooting manual that's fine, as soon as your shutter speed is set matching or higher the focal length of you lens. Now coming to the ISO, you should try different shots using different ISO setting until you got the right exposure, those birds in the pond will be there as long as you don't scare them away. You may set your ISO to AUTO, and let the camera sets the ISO for you. I use auto ISO all time with manual mode, combining with exposure compensation, - or +, all depending the lighting situation.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:19:02   #
lamiaceae (a regular here)
 
CindyHouk wrote:
I went out to practice on birds. There is a pond by my house that normally has swans, ducks, geese, blue herons and eagles...so I thought this would be a good spot. BUT it was really overcast and I was not able to get the exposure correct and I am hoping you all can tell me what I was doing wrong. Plus there were not many birds around either...so that didn't help!

Nikon D500, Tamron 150-600, on tripod. Manual Mode, BBF set, Shutter button set to AE-L at half press, AF-C, played with Single Focus point, group and Auto, and also switched between Spot Meter and Center Weight Meter.

I was told that you should have your shutter speed a little over double your focal length...so at 600mm I would want my shutter at or over 1200, but doing that...I was not able to figure out how to get the ap/iso set so that the exposure was correct...it was driving me nuts! I played with the metering as well and just could never find the correct combination. Everything was turning out way to dark

The first pic shows how dark all the pics turned out...I even played with the exposure compensation but still nothing turned out. Just converted the raw to jpg in lightroom....no other edits made
The second pic is at a way lower shutter speed but as you can see, the duck is blurry and still too dark
The lasts 2 pics show my location, I changed my lens to the Tamron 16-150 for these

What would you have done in this situation? What settings should I have tried and what would your settings have been? I will go back and practice with everyone's suggestions.

Thanks
Cindy
I went out to practice on birds. There is a pond b... (show quote)


The other replies are all good suggestions. You need practice shooting to get the lighting / exposure correct. I might guess you had your meter set to "Center Spot" and thus metered a high-light in the water just above the duck. Or your "Matrix" metering was getting a lot of those bright spots in the water. Try "Center Weighted" on the duck and then either L-AE and recompose or move the focus / meter point of center on to the subject. The D500 should be able to handle those scenes fine (with practice and knowledge).

You can fix 'em with Ps or Lr. I worked The Duck with Ps CS6. You should not usually center the main subject, thirds is best. I don't seem to have the Italics version of your font. The later ones are pretty nice otherwise.
Processed / Edited By MDW
Processed / Edited By MDW...
(Download)

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Jan 5, 2019 12:23:58   #
swartfort
 
I see that you have really low ISO on all of these. I find that there seems to be a fear of ISO on these new dslr cameras. I have the same sensor in my D7500 and find that I get great images up to about 1600 ISO and then acceptable images up to about 4500 ISO depending on the subject and need for crop.

So a couple of things:
1) SS twice that of the focal length? I believe that is best stated to be: "at least the focal length". So if you have stationary subject, no vibration control and are hand held, then 600 should get you at the long end of that lens.
2) AE Lock on shutter. You might want to turn this off and instead use auto ISO with the maximum setting at 2000. If you lock the exposure, and your subject moves, the camera will not allow the ISO to change for the changing light conditions. Then you can adjust your shutter speed with your back command dial and your aperture with your front command dial to get the two parts of the exposure triangle where you want them and let the camera sensor do the hard part from there.
3)On your playback set up: Playback display options: check "focus point", "highlights" and "shooting data". Then take a test shot. Pull up the image and use the "up down" control to scroll thru the data. There will be a screen that will show "blinkies" if anything is over exposed. THEN you would use the exposure compensation to help in that situation.

My suspicion is that since you were told incorrectly about the SS relative to focal length, that someone has also made you skittish regarding ISO. If we all had perfect light and a budget for super fast mega telephoto lenses (600mm 2.8???) then everyone would have the luxury of shooting at super low ISO.
Here is a link to some high ISO images that I captured recently: www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-571903-1.htm They have some noise, but most people find them very acceptable. You can hit the link below to my flickr page, then click on each image. If you scroll beneath the image, it will show you basic info on the shot, and if you hit "exif" you will pull up all the info on the shot AND the post processing.

Mostly I shoot birds and BIF: Manual, BBF, single point focus, auto ISO with maximum set at 2000, and -0.3 exposure compensation (because I shoot brighter birds against darker backgrounds) I seldom use a tripod/monopod, but I only have a 300mm lens and it is lightweight. If you have the D500, we share the same sensor, so the exposure results should be very similar.

Let me know if I can be of more help.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:26:29   #
CHG_CANON (a regular here)
 
With a D500, you should feel confident working with ISOs to ISO3200 (if not higher)

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Jan 5, 2019 12:27:24   #
CindyHouk (a regular here)
 
imagemeister wrote:
To lighten, you must bring SS down - by itself- or bring ISO up - by itself .....OR, bring ISO up and SS down.
Metering is seeing the bright sky and/or water ....
..

b

Thanks...that's what i was trying but never could find the correct combination.

| Reply
Jan 5, 2019 12:29:52   #
CindyHouk (a regular here)
 
genocolo wrote:
Actually the final three were very well done and could have been helped in LR.


Thanks! I haven't processed them yet, wanted to show them with the results from the camera first.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:31:18   #
CindyHouk (a regular here)
 
GENorkus wrote:
Something "quick and dirty" as some put it, is for you to meter off the ground or something with a similar brightness as the birds you want to photograph.

With exception to the focusing, use that setting.
Practice some, make adjustments and you'll find it's pretty close to what you need.


Thanks...I didn't think about metering off the ground -- I will give that a try.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:32:52   #
CHG_CANON (a regular here)
 
CindyHouk wrote:
b

Thanks...that's what i was trying but never could find the correct combination.


Look at your histogram for the images, tests or in-progress. This tool will tell you how you're doing for capturing relatively bright images. You can also look at the meter in the view finder and mentally register how + / - you are of the zero mark. For this overcast situation, you're going to need to be at least +1, if not at +2 or higher. As you adjust shutter and / or ISO for stationary or flying birds, keep the meter reading at the same position relative to the 0-mark.

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Jan 5, 2019 12:33:37   #
swartfort
 
lamiaceae wrote:
The other replies are all good suggestions.

You can fix 'em with Ps or Lr. I worked The Duck with Ps CS6. You should not usually center the main subject, thirds is best. I don't seem to have the Italics version of your font. The later ones are pretty nice otherwise.


Two things here (with all kindness and not to offend):
1) with long lenses and distant subjects, often center focus is the best way to capture and then if you can crop it a bit to offset the "centered" subject it works best.
2) Having said that, Fixing poorly exposed images in LR or PS or other PP software is often used as a crutch to not really experiment and learn the exposure triangle. Yes I post process, but I focus on being a better photographer rather than being a really excellent computer/application whiz. But really, on this I realize that I am a bit of a snob so please take this with a grain of salt....

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